I remember the warmth of the sun, the feel of breeze and the exotic scents that it brought. I remember friends and the spaces we made sacred by being there together.
But of course none of this had physical reality. Or even, in some cases, virtual reality. My memory filled in the details – the smells and warmth etc. It also conveniently forgot the physical space I happened to be in at the time, the instrumental actions I was taking with keyboard and mouse, the pain in my arms and fingers (though this is getting better now - thx all).
What started to strike me as I sifted through these memories was the sense of place I was getting. I don't simply mean the spatial sense but rather the virtual-phenomology of the experience, and I began to wonder what the cues were that that were building up the all encompassing sensation. The dots between which my mind was painting (Gestalting??) the rest of the scene as it were.
This all came to mind again the other evening in WoW. I was standing on a dock by a lake when suddenly three children ran past. Hold on I thought, I don't remember seeing them before. They might have always been there. The pattern of their run might be as predictable as the path the MOBs tread, but at the moment it seemed fresh and new. What's more it seemed like the kind of detail that I was probably not supposed to give primacy to but was an incidental to give the place some character.
On the whole I find much of WoW to be artificial and distancing, many surfaces are so obviously texture mapped and the images seem to be stretched and distorted a little too much. But now I'm discovering new areas the feeling of place is starting to flesh out.
SWG on the other hand does no seem to provide the same range of clues. NPCs seem much more robotic. Yet I still get some sense that is greater than the data presented. The only way I individuate these feelings are that WoW has a sense of place whereas SWG has a sense of landscape.
Similarly ATITD sometimes gives me a chill. It can feel so cold and lonely. I think that the sound of the wind combined with the emptiness of the desert, lack of NPS and low population overall add to this deep sense of emptiness that it can create – while camps by contrast can feel very homely.
Last night I logged into Guild Wars for the first time. These thoughts in my mind I immediately noticed the way that NPCs seem to have even more life to them, the addition of trails of footprints in sand and ripples when walking through water add even more layers.
Only time will tell what texture my memories have.